ECIS 2020 Research Papers

Abstract

Increasing recognition of youth mental-health problems has created demand for expanded services and more equitable service access. This has put pressure on face-to-face clinical services, leading to growing interest in the efficacy of technology-based mental-health interventions and the values and ethical perspectives that inform these interventions. Previous work has not fully dealt with the range of ethical issues surrounding the use of technology-based therapies, some of which are offered by commercial providers without evidence of efficacy. This raises questions of how to best offer online psychological support. We ask: how can we design and implement online mental-health systems and applications that satisfy the ethical requirements of conventional psychological practice, and what new questions arise in the online environment? We raise several ethical issues that are familiar to healthcare yet distinctive to the technological environment and discuss how we have responded to them in the design of a family of technology-based psychotherapy interventions. Our work is informed by a classic health ethics framework – the four-principle framework – and our contribution is in mapping known problems in eMental health to the categories of this ethical framework. Our analysis will inform the design and use of online treatments as well as future ethical guidelines and regulation.

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